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Dr. Karen Eppley

Dr. Karen Eppley
Phone: 8148633496
Office Address:
255 Chambers Building
University Park, PA 16802
Campus: University Park


Associate Professor


Curriculum and Instruction


Center on Rural Education and Communities (CREC)


Curriculum and Instruction: English Language Arts Education
Curriculum and Instruction: Language, Culture and Society


A former fifth grade teacher, my research interest is at the intersection of literacy education and rural education. I write about rurality as a contested social space within economic globalization, rural literacies, textual representations of rurality, rural education as a matter of social justice, and policy analysis. My current project is a multiple-case study analyzing the experience of community members in rural Pennsylvania communities who opted to use charter law to open a community-operated charter school to replicate the traditional school after its closure. A second project is a co-authored textbook for undergraduate teacher preparation programs that prepare teachers for rural teaching appointments. I edit the Journal of Research in Rural Education (JRRE) and lead a multi-modal, arts-based reading camp each summer in the College for readers entering grades two through six.  

Areas of Expertise

Age Levels

Early Childhood

Curriculum Areas

Language, Culture, and Society Ed
Language/Literacy Ed

Education Levels

Early Childhood

Education Types

Public Ed
Rural Ed

Educational Studies

Critical & Feminist Theory
Cultural Studies
Educational Theory

Individual Difference


Leadership Preparation

Teacher Prep


Equity and Diversity

Methodological Research

Discourse Analysis
Qualitative Research

Social Issues

Charter Schools
Education Policy
Social Issues

Teacher Preparation

In-service Teachers
Pre-service Teachers

Representative Publications

Peer Reviewed Articles

Eppley, K. (2019). What is Reading For?: Close Reading and Critical Place Consciousness. Curriculum Inquiry, 49(3), 1-17. 

Eppley, K., Azano, A., Brenner, D. & Shannon, P. (2018). What counts as evidence in rural schools? Evidence-based practice and practice-based evidence for diverse settings. The Rural Educator, 39(2), 33-37. 

Eppley, K. & Dudley-Marling, C. (2018). Does Direct Instruction Work: A Critical Assessment of Direct Instruction Research and its Theoretical Perspective. Journal of Curriculum and Pedagogy, 15(1), 1-20. 

Eppley, K. & Shannon, P. (2017). Practice based evidence: Intelligent action inquiry for complex problems. Literacy Research: Theory, Method, and Practice,66, 1-17. 

Eppley, K. (2015). Seven traps of the Common Core State Standards. Journal of Adult and Adolescent Literacy, 59(2), 2017-216.

Eppley, K. (2015).‘Hey, I saw your grandparents at Walmart': Teacher preparation for rural schools and communities. The Teacher Educator, 50(1),67-86.

Freie, C.& Eppley, K. (2014).Putting Foucault to work: Understanding power in a rural school. Peabody Journal of Education89(5),652-669. 

 Howley, A., Howley, M .& Eppley, K. (2013).How agricultural science trumps rural community in the discourse of U.S.History textbooks.Theory and Research in Social Education, 41(2),187-218.

Eppley, K. (2011). Reading Mastery as pedagogy of erasure.The Journal of Research in Rural Education, 26(13),1-5.

Eppley, K. (2011). Teaching rural place: Pre-service language and literacy teachers consider place-conscious literacy. Pedagogies:An International Journal, 6(2),87-103.

Eppley, K. & Shannon, P. (2011)."Did you like living in a trailer? Why or why not?": Discourse and the third space in a rural pen pal exchange.Teaching and Teacher Education27, 289-297.

Eppley, K. (2010). Picturing rural America: An analysis of the representation of contemporary rural America in picture books for children.The Rural Educator32(1),1-15.

Eppley, K. (2008).The Highly Qualified Teacher provision of No Child Left Behind: A critical policy study of the provision’s impact on rural schools. Journal of Research in Rural Education24(4),1-11.

Eppley, K.(2006). Defying insider-outsider categorization: One researcher's fluid and complicated positioning on the insider-outsider continuum. Review Essay:Writing the Amish: The Worlds of John A. Hostetler (2005) by David Weaver-Zercher. Forum: Qualitative Social Research,7(3), Art.16. Available at:


Azano, A., Brenner, D., Downey, J., Eppley, K. & Shulte, A. (2020, Anticipated). Teaching in Rural Places: Thriving in Classrooms, Schools, and Communities. Under contract with Routledge. 


Eppley, K., Stagg-Peterson, S. & Heppner, D. (2020, anticipated). Valuing rural and Indigenous social practices: Play as placed learning in kindergarten classrooms. In S. Stagg-Peterson & N. Friedrich.  Roles of place and play in young children’s oral and written language. In press. University of Toronto Press.

Eppley, K., Schafft, K, & Maselli, A. (2020, anticipated). Charter schools and the reconfiguring of the rural school-community connection. In P. Roberts & M. Fuqua (Eds.), Ruraling Education Research: Connections between Rurality and the Disciplines of Educational Research. In press. Springer.

Eppley, K. (2020, anticipated) Mothers as educational leaders: Gender performativity in field work. In J. Surface, N. Aoudeh, & D. Donskey (Eds.), Women in Educational Leadership: A practitioner’s handbook. In press. Word and Deed Publishing.

Eppley, K. (2017). Rural girlhoods in picture books: Visual constructions of social practices. In A. Mandrona & C. Mitchell (Eds.), Visual Encounters in the Study of Rural Childhoods (pp. 92-106). New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.

Eppley, K. & Shannon, P. (2016). Literacy Education for the Lumps and Divots of Smart Cities and Rural Places. In S. Williams & A. Grooms (Eds.), Educational opportunity in rural contexts: The politics of place (pp. 59-73). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Press.

Howley, A., Eppley, K., & Howley, M. (2016). From ingenious to ignorant, from idyllic to backwards: Representations of rural life in six US textbooks over half a century. In J. Williams & W. Bokhorst-Heng (Eds.), (Re)Constructing memory: Textbooks, identity, nation, and state (pp. 93-120). Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense Publishing.

Non-ReferredArticles (EditorialReview)

 Eppley, K. & Eppley, & Corbett, M. (2012). I'll see that when I believe it: A dialogue on epistemological difference and rural literacies. The Journal of Research in Rural Education, 27(1),1-9.

Eppley, K., (2015). Forum: Rural science education as social justice. Cultural Studies in Science Education, 12(1), 45-52. 


Eppley, K. (2017). Pennsylvania Rural Charter Schools: Roles and meanings in rural communities. Penn State College of Education Research Initiation Grant Funded for $9,000.